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How to Prune a Tree Peony

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Thin buds to get bigger flowers.
peony bud image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com

Native to China and Japan, tree peonies grow well in both full sun and dappled sun. The plants produce flowers in an array of colors, from red and fuchsia to yellow and white. Tree peonies can bloom for 50 to 80 years with proper care, according to Tree Peony Garden. Most tree peonies reach 4 to 7 feet in height and 4 to 5 feet in width. Pruning is an important part of tree peony care and should be done annually in late spring.

Wait until the year following planting to prune. The best time to prune tree peonies is during the spring.

Cut away any unwanted shoots that emerge from the ground near the base of the tree peony.

Thin out the canopy when your tree peony becomes too bushy. Select six to 10 of the strongest, healthiest stems on your tree peony. Trim all other shoots back to the main trunk with your lopping shears. Thinning out the canopy increases air circulation through the tree peony, which helps keep the peony healthy.

Prune away low-growing foliage to expose the trunk of the tree peony if you want to shape it in the traditional Asian manner. This step is not necessary and is personal preference.

Thin out the flower buds, leaving only one to two buds per twig. By doing this, you'll have fewer flowers but they will be larger.


Things You Will Need

  • Lopping shears
  • Garden gloves (optional)

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.